3i4 THE GAY GENIUS ing", however, suggested more than that. It indicated a serious attempt to form the "internal pill" of immortality in the lower part of his abdomen. This was one of the inscriptions in rhyme of which the poet himself was very proud; but couched in the mystic language of the secret Taoist art, it would be unintelligible in an English translation without lengthy footnotes. Briefly, he spoke of absorbing the vital spirits of food and drink and the essence of herbs and plants which,- helped by lead and quicksilver, were to nourish the vital principle. It was to be aided by exposure to the morning sun and bathing in the moonlight. The pill that he expected to form was the "pill of clean thinking". He believed the time was just right. In a separate note in his journal, he remarked that the poet Po Chuyi had also tried to carry on experiments on the elixir but had failed. Po had built a country house with a furnace on top.of the Lushan, but the furnace and the boiler broke down on the day before he received his appointment to an office. This shows that the quest for the eternal life and for temporal honours could not be carried on at the same time. One had to make up one's mind either to live an active life in this world or to escape from it and become an immortal. Now, Su was convinced he had said good- bye to temporal honours and he was hopeful of success in the quest for the eternal life. Just how seriously he believed in the possibility of forming the pill of immortality in his abdomen it is not possible to say. He was a keen observer, and although he always played with such mysteries of the art as the taking of mercury compounds, he began to see that the basis of good health consisted in following a few simple rules of common sense. In a note which he presented to the tubercular Taoist Lu, he said: "The basis of this art lies in strengthening one's bodily vitality, in achieving mental stability, and in cultivating peace of mind", plus such advantages and exercises as the Taoists living on mountain-tops were able to enjoy, and modern patients are* able to enjqy in a sanatorium, namely, the drinking of spring water and exposure to the morning sun. In yet another curious way Cliaoyun was to co-operate in Su's quest for immortality. From about the beginning of 1095 Su Tungpo began to sleep alone. "There is no secret to the art of prolonging life," he wrote to a friend. "If one sleeps alone and controls one's passions, one's vitality is naturally restored." In another letter to Chang Lei, he said that he had slept alone for a year and a half, and had felt its good benefits. He said continence was as difficult as the refusing of meat by a beginning vegetarian, and recommended the following method: For instance, when one decided to eat no more meat, one should not make a resolution never to eat it. He should first try for a three-month period, which was easier to carry out. At the end of the three months one could extend it another three months, and so on.